updated 5/3/2004 3:38:45 PM ET 2004-05-03T19:38:45

Jay Grinney, an executive with hospital giant HCA Inc., has been elected president and chief executive of HealthSouth Corp., the health care giant trying to recover from a massive accounting fraud scandal.

HealthSouth announced Monday that its board had selected Grinney, 53, to succeed Robert May, who has been interim CEO at HealthSouth since Richard Scrushy was fired from the post more than a year ago.

Grinney, who has been president since 1996 of HCA’s Eastern Group of about 100 hospitals, will also serve with May on the HealthSouth board.

Joel C. Gordon, interim chairman of the HealthSouth board, said Grinney has “broad operating and financial experience and is recognized as one of today’s outstanding leaders in the health care industry. He brings with him not only a wealth of practical know-how built over a 23-year career, but a real vision of the opportunities and challenges in today’s health care industry.”

Grinney said he looks forward to leading HealthSouth “into the next chapter of its growth.”

“HealthSouth has made an impressive turnaround over the past year and I am confident that it has a future of solid growth and profitability,” he said.

HealthSouth was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in 2003 after the government charged that company earnings had been inflated for years. But its interim leadership has kept it out of bankruptcy during a period when 17 former HealthSouth executives pleaded guilty in the fraud investigation.

Scrushy is set to stand trial in August in federal court on charges of making millions off the inflated earnings scheme. He has pleaded innocent.

HealthSouth is the nation’s largest provider of outpatient surgery, diagnostic imaging and rehabilitative health care services.

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